Portland kayaker keen to take on Murray Marathon challenge

PORTLAND kayaker Jason Eats will have a couple of goals in mind when he starts the annual Murray Marathon today.

The first is to finish. The second is to stay afloat longer than he did last year — and they’re easier said than done.

Eats, 29, has teamed with work colleagues Leigh Roberts, 32, and Duncan Alexander, 29, for the five-day, 404-kilometre paddle from Yarrawonga to Swan Hill.

The trio, all employees of renewable energy company Pacific Hydro, will compete as a relay team after a lack of pre-race preparation ended thoughts of going solo.

Their bid to conquer the Murray River comes after Eats and Roberts paddled the Murray Marathon in a two-man kayak last year.

“A bit of suntan last year was probably the worst part of it,” Eats said.

“We hadn’t kayaked at all before. We hired a kayak and we picked it up on the day of the Murray Marathon.

“Jumped in it and fell out about 25 times on the first day, bumbled our way through the first couple of days. But in the end we got the hang of it.”

Eats said he encouraged newcomers to tackle the Murray Marathon, but with a word of warning — make sure you’re capable in a kayak.

“It nearly broke us (last year) but if you’re a professional kayaker and have done training it’s the way to go,” he said.

“We jumped in the deep end and we made it and made it quite well in the end. But a little bit of training does help.”

As a relay team, Eats, Ararat’s Roberts and North Ringwood’s Alexander will paddle part of the course each day, changing kayakers at designated checkpoints.

Their approach means the week on the water will be more social and about personal achievement than competition.

They are also raising money for event organiser YMCA, and had raised $739.10 late yesterday.

People can donate by visiting www.everydayhero.com.au/leigh__roberts

About 500 paddlers will start in the Murray Marathon, which wraps up at Swan Hill on New Year’s Eve.

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